What IT managers really think about ...

On the whole IT managers are happy with their career choice, are keen to investigate Wi-Fi technology and admit there is still plenty of work to do when it comes to application integration.

A review of Computerworld's weekly online polls for the past two years reveals what readers really think about a range of issues.

As part of this special report, IT managers have been asked to comment on the final tallies and whether their views have changed since the results were first published.

Polls that always get a strong response are those that are career-based or ask readers their views about the industry.

Overwhelmingly, readers enjoy working in IT and cannot imagine working in any other profession.

David Leong, IT director at law firm Arnold Bloch Leibler, said the work environment is interesting, challenging and dynamic.

"But the rewards you get from the effort you put in can sometimes make it a thankless job," Leong said.

"But I probably wouldn't do anything else. It is an endless task to get our users to value the solutions from IT; but it is fun trying to change their perception."

Bridgestone IT support manager Graham Burkin agrees the job is stimulating, particularly with so many changes at the moment around mobility and convergence.

One of Computerworld's most popular polls in 2004 was published in June and asked readers if organizations are buying too much technology.

Surprisingly, 30 percent said yes, while 34 percent said there can never be too much.

The remaining 52 percent said no, it is just being misused.

Chris Wilson, director at 21c Technology Consulting, said most IT departments make do with what they have.

But, he added, some investments aren't always used to full capacity.

Wilson said users tend to favour old technology because it is familiar.

"End users tend to do tasks on the old technology, not always making the shift to new technology," he said.

"Software tends to be about a generation behind the hardware and the end users' mindset tends to be a generation or two behind that.

"This is because their focus is simply on getting their job done and with people expected to do more work in less time it's not always possible nor a priority for users to take advantage of new technology."

Wilson believes change management and training is just as important as technology deployment.

Pittwater Council IT manager Chris Tubridy believes training is critical to maximize technology investments.

"You can never have too much technology, but getting the most out of it and integrating it with existing systems takes time," Tubridy said.

Katrina Reynen, Victorian Department of Education and Training assistant general manager, said the government is investing heavily in technology.

"This has put us at the forefront of technology advances such as secure wireless in every school," she said.

Here's what you said about:

Job recognition:
* Poll from February 2005
Do IT professionals lack recognition within their enterprises?
80 percent said yes.
25 percent said credit where credit is due.
36 percent said business now takes IT seriously.

"It depends; in our environment we get credit where credit is due. IT is considered important and a core business function by executive management. I have seen no change from 2005. - Peter James, University of Technology director of infrastructure and operations.

"I think irrespective of the industry you will always find people who feel under appreciated. I don't think the results relate just to IT professionals -- other professionals would have the same perspective. I find my role interesting, constantly changing and stimulating. I'm perfectly comfortable with the recognition from the business. Like all areas IT must be professionally run and I think it is approached in that way." - David Speare, IT manager, Heat and Control.

"I don't think IT is a glamour industry and needs no more recognition than any other department, like sales or accounting. Credit where credit is due." - Graham Burkin, IT support manager, Bridgestone.

Mainframe costs:
* Poll from September 2005
Are legacy mainframes a costly beast of burden?
Yes, but retiring them is prohibitive (costs too much) - 82 percent
Only, if you lose the skills around them - 27 percent
No, Web services will save the day - 19 percent

"No, it is depends on what applications you are running. It is the applications that tend to be the driving force and not the architecture. We still have mainframes - it gets back to horses for courses; we run things on our supercomputer that are suited for particular applications." - Peter Gigliotti, IT Manager, Australian Bureau Meteorology.

"Generally no, they are not a burden if used effectively, otherwise they are terrible. Australian IT managers don't know how to manage them effectively, because they are not prepared to go outside the square in running their internal IT shops. They run them like they ran them 30 years ago. They are no more or less expensive to run than any other box." - Tony Ward, CEO, Financial Network Services

"We have moved from the mainframe to the mid-range - we were sold on the promise of lower total cost of ownership, flexibility and agility. In reality, we have experienced a greater total cost of ownership in the mid-range environment. We are now questioning that; t is taking a lot more money to develop. We have a foot in both camps now and the debate rages as to whether to continue the migration off the mainframe. We recently did a new upgrade of mainframe hardware and it was seamless." - Paul Ayers, chief technical officer, IP Australia.

What percentage of your applications are integrated?
* Poll from February 2006
More than 70 percent, there's not much left - 20 percent
Between 30 and 70 percent; we're getting there - 28 percent
Less than 30 percent; we're as siloed as wheat storage - 53 percent

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